The Musings of

Something full of magic, religion, bullsh*t.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The spin

Moral values, terrorism, gay marriage, and Iraq. For over a week now all the spinmeisters in the country have been trying to piece together some whole cloth in a partisan attempt to answer the big question about the election: What does it all mean?

The Liberals have been blaming Bush's victory on the "hatemongers and purveyors of fear" on the Right. According to the new Democrat mantra, fundamentalist Christians turned out in droves, spurred by bloodlust over gay marriage and abortion. Republicans have been quick to shatter their illusions by pointing out that terrorism was the real issue and have making convincing arguments that Evangelicals were no more influential in this election than they were the last.

While I agree that the Left is greatly exaggerating the effect of traditional moral issues on the election, I also believe the Right is dropping the ball in an attempt to cobble together a post-election coalition. The numbers just don't lie. Terrorism dominated the landscape, and Bush, who stuck to the issue like a drunk guy sticks to a blonde at a bar, was able to capitalize on a rational fear. But if that is the case -- if the election was won or lost on terrorism -- how does that really bode for the future of the Republican Party?

The answer, I believe, is that it may not at all. 9/11 reset the political landscape, but there has been no serious attack on US soil since that time (thank God). If Bush has continued success in halting terrorist acts on our soil, what issue will the party run on in 4 years? Prayerfully, we will be out of Iraq by that time, and the public's short memory will no doubt cause them to cast around for another political horse to back. What will we have to show them? More domestic spending? New McCain-Feingold type legislation or No Child Left Behind II?

Let's face it, no matter how the Right tries to spin it, without terrorism Bush would be sitting in Crawford today. The GOP was able to scrape together a narrow win against a weak candidate solely because it was not forced to run on what once was its bread-and-butter issue: the economy. What should be scaring Republicans is that, according to the polls, voters who felt that the economy was the most important issue in the presidential race backed Kerry (by an astounding 4-1 margin). These individuals justifiably felt that Bush had not been an effective steward of the public weal.

Pundits have been quick to draw the conclusion that the Democrat Party is dead, perhaps in an attempt to kick the Left while it is down. Don't be fooled. Bush I showed all too well what can happen to the GOP if it ignores domestic policy in order to shape some international agenda. The ongoing war allowed Bush II to ignore this rule in this election, but we may not be so lucky in the next.

So what is the answer? It is as simple to guess as is it difficult to enact. Bush must stop promoting new government spending. He must give the economy room to grow by renewing his focus on low taxes and by learning to practice fiscal restraint. Poll after poll and election after election have proven that Americans are a conservative people. Many of them rabidly support social issues, which is why it is vital that Bush nominate social conservatives to administration and judicial posts. But even more Americans vote with their pocketbooks. They want jobs, low inflation, and business growth. Polls show that these voters don't have any major qualms with social conservative issues, but they aren't going to vote based solely on abortion or prayer in schools. Bush must spend his political capital to reform social security and tame government spending. Even Clinton figured this out after the Democrats' disastrous 1994 elections. If Bush is able to accomplish this agenda, the GOP can count on an even stronger coalition going into 2008 without relying on terrorism as a wedge issue.

It's the economy, stupid.
Centinel 8:42 PM #


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